Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Whatever Happened to Christian Liberty in Political Elections?

Dr. Robert A. J. Gagnon has been posting some very discerning pieces on Christian liberty and politics lately.  Sadly, I do not think his platform is nearly as large as is the machine that is the Gospel Coalition or Christianity Today.  In large part Dr. Gagnon is reacting against those Christians who suggest that it is wrong, immoral, and/or hypocritical to vote against Hillary Clinton (i.e. to vote for Trump) come November.  At the same time Robert wholly understands that some believers will not vote for either candidate come November because of conscience sake.  As a wise and balanced Christian thinker he does not belittle such persons with, "Don't you realize that a vote for a third-party candidate will ensure a Clinton victory!  Don't you realize what Clinton's positions are on religious freedom, militant LGBT advocacy, abortion, etc- You are an idiot if you ____!!"   Instead, Gagnon presents a thoughtful, principled, and balanced set of convictions and arguments.

Here is his latest article:  "I'm sure that Andy Crouch, executive editor of Christianity Today, thinks that he is doing the right thing when he accuses of idolatry (!) any evangelicals who vote for Trump, even evangelicals who hate that Trump is the GOP nominee and express disgust for Trump's sexual sin (the latest of which are 11-year old remarks that even Trump himself has apologized for, at least in part) and other behaviors but who nonetheless see a Clinton/Kaine administration as doing far greater policy harm. To Mr. Crouch, there can be no validity any longer to averting the even graver apocalyptic disaster of a Clinton/Kaine administration for the unborn, the male-female matrix for sexuality, religious liberty protections, and the appointment of jurists who don't treat the Constitution as so many tea leaves configured to their leftwing fancy, even though long after anyone will be talking about Trump's disgusting behavior we'll still have the abusive and coercive legal and judicial legacy of a Clinton/Kaine administration.

Here's how it comes across to persons whom Mr. Crouch bashes: insulting, condescending, bullying, and histrionic, not to mention ill-informed at points. The recipients attacked in this and other recent articles (one by Russell Moore and another by a certain Colin Hansen of the Gospel Coalition, both for the fair-minded and politically balanced publication known as the Washington Post, essentially a media outlet for the Clinton campaign) are being portrayed slanderously by a self-appointed evangelical magisterium as too stupid, too morally shallow, too hypocritical, or too crazed with a desire for political power to be respected for their own moral judgments. The tone of these articles goes something like this: Shut up you moral hypocrites and ignoramuses and do what we tell you.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

What Is a HEALTHY Church (and what it's not)?

 A healthy church is not a church that’s perfect and without sin. It’s a church that continually seeks to conform itself to God’s Word.”  

Mark Dever

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Trump v. Clinton and Going Beyond What Is Written

Evangelicals, of all people, should not be silent about Donald Trump's wicked immorality or about Hillary Clinton’s habitual lawlessness and her LGBT, radical pro-choice platform- AMEN!

Christians must not try and present an unrepentant, rich, old ruler as a “born again” Christian- AMEN!

Believers should not dismiss Trump’s licentious behavior by pointing to the Democrats "poster child president" (Bill Clinton or JFK); as gross immoral behavior does not justify gross immoral behavior- AMEN!

Disciples must not confuse an apology/worldly sorrow for genuine repentance (see 2 Cor. 7:10; Psalm 51).

BUT THIS DOES NOT MEAN that Christians are only left with two options: 1) To either vote for Hillary Clinton (an immoral candidate); 2) OR to vote for a third party/fill in. Elections are matters of wisdom and conscience. In this regard this political election is no different than the last nine or so you have participated in.

Pray, seek God’s Word, educate yourself, listen to wise counsel; especially from Word-governed believers- At the end of the day you must vote (or not vote) according to your conscience!  Don’t let the Gospel Coalition or any other source tell you who you MUST vote for. Christian liberty is just that.  Russell Moore and Collin Hansen do not officially speak on behalf of the Church; (Protestants do not have a Pope)!!! Christian teachers and authors should highlight any and all pertinent biblical principles and historical facts but must work hard to not go beyond what is written (1 Cor. 4:6).

In response to Collin Hansen's Washington Post Op-ed Dr. Roberty Gagnon wrote this balanced response.  It is well worth your time.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Is Your Church On the Right Track? How Can You Tell?

In order for a sick patient to get treatment an individual must admit that he/she is not well.  The same principle is true with regards to "sick" churches.  In a previous blog post Dr. Rainer suggested some of the warning signs that often reveal that a ministry is unwell.  When a sick church lives in denial over their true spiritual condition they are often only "one stage away from becoming terminal."  Many ministries slowly but surely whittle away (numerically, financially, and most importantly spiritually) because they are unwilling to humbly admit that genuine repentance and biblical change are drastically needed.  Pride and apathy often make people blind or indifferent to the words of Christ.

Having said that, many ministries that appear to be "successful" on the outside are often plagued with stage four cancer on the inside.  Not everything that glitters is gold.  Just because a church is packed each and every Sunday does not necessarily mean the people are growing spiritually (note the warning given in Hebrews 5:12-14).  Or just because a church is the talk of town does not mean it is a model ministry.  In fact, many evangelical churches that are a mile wide are often only an inch deep.  If you think "bigger always means better" in the eyes of God than you have not carefully read through the New Testament Scriptures.

Revelation 2-3 is one of the most important passages that is routinely ignored by the contemporary church today.  Few things are more relevant than the Lord of the Church providing seven spiritual report cards for seven local churches.  Of the two churches Jesus' praises how financially prosperous do you suppose these praiseworthy congregations were?  These two churches were poor, faithful (persecuted) but of infinite worth in the eyes of God!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Give God the Microphone! A Case for Consecutive Expository Preaching

For a very short season preaching verse by verse, book by book through the New Testament Scriptures was en vogue.  As such, many in the contemporary church adopted this method.  If you peruse the websites of local churches in your home town you will notice this is (sadly) no longer the norm.

In his helpful little book the Priority of Preaching Christopher Ash provides 7 blessings of having consecutive expository preaching as the staple diet on the menu for the people of God.

1) Consecutive Expository Preaching Safeguards God's Agenda Against Being Hijacked by Ours.

In biblical ministry I want to exorcise three demons.  "They are called Relevance, Entertainment, and Immediacy" (p. 111).

"To preach expositorily through a Bible book is to trust that the agenda of God is the right, the deepest, and the best agenda" (p. 112).

"That is not to say that we cultivate dreary preaching; it is to say that the content of our preaching is set not by the demands of entertainment, but by the agenda God has set in the books of the Bible."

2) Consecutive Expository Preaching Makes It Harder For Us to Abuse the Bible by Reading It Out of Context.

We often say that a text without a context is a pretext.  You cannot just make the bible say whatever it is you want it to say and yet that is what many preachers do when they (often inadvertently) miss the point of the passage Sunday after Sunday.

"Consecutive Bible exposition helps us understand the Bible in its context and therefore understand it correctly, and not to abuse the Word of God by twisting it to mean something other than what God has made it mean" (p. 116).  2 Timothy 2:15.

3) Consecutive Expository Preaching Dilutes the Selectivity of the Preacher

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Preaching- R. Kent Hughes

While commenting on Colossians 1:25-29 Dr. Hughes writes, “This apostolic charge has preaching as its main function, and specifically Biblical exposition. The phrase ‘to present to you the word of God’ literally reads, ‘that i might complete the Word of God.' The idea is to lay out the Word of God fully. People cannot know Christ better without knowing the Word of God fully.  Preaching (biblical exposition) was the heart of God’s call to Paul. Preaching must open up the Word of God.  Paul affirms here such preaching is primary to an authentic ministry. There is no shortcut-it takes work. 
Joseph Parker put it this way: If i had talked all the week, I could not have preached on Sunday. That is all. Mystery there is none. I have made my preaching work my delight, the very festival of my soul. That is all. Young brother, go thou and do likewise, and God bless thee."